To cure youth addiction to online games, countries are struggling to find countermeasures

The phenomenon of minors indulging in and suffering from online games is plagued the world. On May 25, 2019, the World Health Organization officially listed “gaming addiction” as a disease. Many countries have also made a lot of efforts to deal with this “addiction” mental illness, but in general, The effect is not satisfactory. Counting from the eight ministries and commissions including the Central Civilization Office, the General Administration of Press and Publication, and the Ministry of Education jointly launching the development standards for the anti-addiction system in April 2007, this battle against minors’ addiction to games has been ongoing in China for 14 years. However, with the popularity of smart phones, especially today when the number of underage game users in China is about 107 million, people can still see a lot of comments describing games as “great beasts”, and the anti-addiction systems of some game companies have also been criticized.” It’s useless”. Whether in China or in countries such as Germany, Japan, Mongolia and other countries surveyed by reporters, “restricting games for minors is not only a technical issue, but also a social issue” has increasingly become a consensus.

“A company that violates regulations must be punished for bankruptcy.”

The harm caused by young people’s addiction to online games is well known. On March 6, when General Secretary Xi Jinping visited the medical and health education members who participated in the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, he also said: “It is not only a problem of indulging in online games, but there are still many dirty things on the Internet. Vulnerable to adverse effects. These problems are social problems and require joint efforts from all sectors of society and relevant departments to study and solve them.”

During the two sessions this year, Li Yan, a representative of the National People’s Congress and president of Qilu Pharmaceutical Group, suggested strengthening the management and control of young people’s addiction to online games, such as “Strengthening the social responsibility of game operators through legal measures, and compulsory setting of parental control ports for game apps before approval for listing.” Smart terminal devices are installed with Internet protection software and anti-addiction software for minors when they leave the factory or before they are sold. At the same time, schools and parents are advised to carry out their main responsibilities and carry out various forms of extracurricular activities to allow students to treat games rationally and avoid simple and rude management. Behavior, etc. Xie Jian, deputy to the National People’s Congress and director of the Wailingding Post Office of Zhuhai Branch of China Post Group Co., Ltd., pointed out that the relevant state departments have done a lot of work on the supervision of online games, but the results have been minimal. Set up a special supervision department to supervise and manage with high-tech means.

Zhu Yongxin, member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Vice Chairman of the Democratic Progressive Central Committee, proposed in the “Proposal on the Establishment of National Standards for Juvenile Games, Home-School-Enterprise Collaborative Implementation of Guardianship Responsibilities,” and the formulation of a unified national standard for juvenile healthy games, and promoted by the state Mandatory. Zhu Yongxin said that compared with countries such as Japan, South Korea, the United States and other countries that mainly rely on game classification systems or a few countries that implement real-name games, the “Notice on Preventing Minors from Indulging in Online Games” issued in 2019 requires comprehensive, strict, and detailed requirements. To be in the forefront of the world, clear regulations have been made in terms of products, corresponding management function settings, time limits for providing game services, and game consumption limits. But it cannot be denied that there are still some irresponsible online game companies exploiting policy loopholes, and even deliberately using various bait and software to induce minors while helping them avoid restrictions. Zhu Yongxin believes that the relevant penalties will lead to bankruptcy of illegal companies that induce minors to indulge in games and “never be allowed to engage in this industry again.”

The influx of a large number of minors into the game really tests the anti-addiction systems of various game manufacturers. In order to strictly investigate the illegal operation of online games and protect the healthy growth of minors, in January 2018, the cultural administration departments of Beijing, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hainan and other places announced the investigation of online games. There were 15 major cases, of which a Xiamen science and technology company and “7637 Game Net” were punished mainly related to “not requiring online game users to use valid IDs for real-name registration.”

Speaking of the proposals made at the two sessions this year and the case three years ago, Ye Kun (pseudonym), the department director of a large game company, told that China’s game anti-addiction mechanism is considered to be the most stringent across the world. of. At present, major domestic game manufacturers have relatively complete anti-addiction systems, which not only require real-name verification, but some have also begun to implement face recognition verification. Ye Kun said: “The real-name authentication of the game of my company is connected to the public security department. It is impossible for false information to pass the authentication, and the ID information obtained from the online search cannot pass the face recognition.”▲

How hard is it to get addicted teenagers “offline”

Not only in China, but more and more countries are struggling to find countermeasures to indulge in online games and seriously damage the physical and mental development of young people. In Japan, addiction to games is called “game dependence”. According to a survey conducted by the Kurihama Medical Center, a Japanese national medical institution, from January to March 2019, 950,000 middle school students in Japan have game dependence. The Japanese government is aware of the seriousness of the problem. On February 6, 2020, in order to clarify the division of labor and cooperation, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Department of Consumer Affairs and other relevant departments, game companies, and medical institutions held a “joint meeting on countermeasures against game addiction.” At the meeting, officials from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare proposed to train professionals to develop programs to prevent game addiction. The head of Kurihama Medical Center explained how to diagnose and treat game addicts. Doctors of the Pediatrics Association suggest that we must find ways not to let children start playing mobile games too early. Experts from the Medical Association said that a pamphlet on “preventing game poisoning” should be issued to parents.

Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, implemented the “Regulations on Restricting Minors from Playing Games and Internet Access” on April 1st last year. This is Japan’s first ordinance specifically targeting gaming dependence. The main content includes schools and Guardians are obliged to limit minors’ play time to no more than 1 hour on weekdays and 90 minutes on holidays; junior high school and elementary school students’ play time is limited to 9 pm, and high school students to 10 pm. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan has produced publicity materials on “Prevention of Game Dependence” for teachers, and organized seminars for students with online game addiction and their parents. The Kanagawa Prefectural Psychiatric Center has a special clinic for “Adolescent Gaming Dependence”. However, the reporter also noticed that in Japan, some stars always say how to “play games all day long” in TV shows. Baseball star Masada Tanaka said in public that “holidays are used to play games,” and he also recruited netizens to play together on social networking sites. The performance of these public figures will undoubtedly have a certain impact on young people, but this phenomenon has not aroused the vigilance of Japanese society. In addition, a neighbor of the reporter also said, “If blindly restricting, it will easily lead to children’s rebellious psychology.”

The National Mental Health Center of Mongolia has been accepting minors with Internet addiction and mental illness since 2002. In recent years, more and more people have been addicted to online games. Mongolian “Time.net” once titled “Children’s Drugs”. The article described how a 6-year-old boy became addicted to playing mobile games. When his parents restricted him from playing games, the child became very irritable and threatened to say, “If Don’t let it play, don’t do homework.” The Crime Prevention Department of the Mongolian Police Headquarters reminds parents to be wary of the fact that addiction to games makes their children’s academic performance worse, skips classes, suspends school, lies, and even breeds criminal behavior. At the same time, it is hoped that parents who are also keen on playing online games will no longer have negative effects on their children .

The Mongolian government decided to ban primary and secondary school students from using smartphones from October 1, 2018, which to a certain extent can restrict children from playing online games during school. In October last year, a Mongolian website launched an APP that can supervise children’s playing games, which was welcomed by parents. In addition to preventing indulging in mobile games, the Mongolian government has also increased its management of Internet cafes and game halls in the past two years. For some business organizations, regulations such as “restricting the entry time of consumers aged 9 to 16 and that minors cannot play online games for more than two hours” are in vain. Ulaanbaatar alone can investigate and deal with more than 400 violations in one year.

Among German teenagers between 12 and 17 years old, about a quarter of them play games for more than 5 hours on weekends. The German Federal Health Education Center’s 2019 “Addiction Survey Report” shows that 30.4% of people are overly dependent on the Internet and 7.6% are addicted to games. In the 2015 survey, these two data were still 21.7% and 5.7%. . The German Federal Government’s drug commissioner Ludwig last year called for the country to launch a publicity campaign, so that teenagers who are addicted to games must know when to go offline.

In fact, Germany has taken many countermeasures, such as amending legal provisions such as the Youth Protection Act and the Interstate Agreement on Youth Media Protection. Relevant terms stipulate: Online games must be licensed under “age rating” just like movies. Online game providers must indicate in their products that the game is suitable for players over 6 years old, over 12 years old, over 16 years old, over 18 years old, or all players. For games over 16 years old, there can be gun battles, but there can be no violent scenes such as bloodshed. In addition, Germany strictly controls the 24-hour game live broadcast network through the online game early warning system, and young people are strictly prohibited from participating in the live broadcast after 22:00. Witkender, an expert on Internet addiction among young people in Berlin, told : “In recent years, the problem of game addiction among young people around the world has increased, especially in the new crown epidemic. This trend has become more pronounced.” He hopes that Germany can build more. Specialized hospitals that treat minors’ Internet addiction and game addiction may open more such departments and incorporate them into the publicly funded treatment system. ▲

Governments, companies, families, and schools should join forces

For large companies such as Tencent and Netease that have received public attention, it has become a “compulsory course” to take the initiative to assume social responsibilities, follow relevant laws, regulations and regulatory requirements, and introduce and improve the anti-addiction system. Tencent stated that starting from 2017, Tencent Games took the lead in building a healthy game system for minors covering the entire process of “before, during and after”, and launched a “growth guardian platform” to assist Parents manage the game time and consumption of underage children, and limit the game time and consumption of real-name underage users from the bottom of the system. Take “Honor of Kings”, which is operated by Tencent and has long been among the most popular mobile games, as an example. The game stipulates that minors cannot play more than 1.5 hours a day and can only play 3 hours a day during statutory holidays. The game is prohibited from 10 am to 8 am the next day.

However, the anti-addiction mechanism of some games has almost become a “formalism” with “policies at the top and countermeasures at the bottom”. Not only is there no mandatory real-name authentication, but the “tourist mode” can be used to play at will. According to the requirements of the “Notice on Preventing Minors from Indulging in Online Games”, online game companies can set up a visitor experience mode for their game services for no more than one hour. For users who use the same hardware device, online game companies must not repeatedly provide the guest experience mode within 15 days. According to Ye Kun, some game operators have not connected the real-name authentication system to the public security database due to cost and other considerations, and some game companies even use the anti-addiction system as a “furnishing” because they do not want to lose these users. . He said: “Game companies’ profit-seeking is an instinct. Games are often designed to increase user stickiness. They will induce users to extend online time and guide recharge consumption in various ways. For some game manufacturers, this is behind Deep contradiction.”

The biggest challenge facing the current game anti-addiction system is that there are minors who can “bypass” the supervision of the game platform. Ms. Xu from Jiaxing, Zhejiang, said that her children often use her mobile phone to secretly play games on the grounds of taking online classes. It is understood that some children will ask their parents to “swipe their faces” by acting coquettishly and crying when they encounter the anti-addiction system for face recognition. Some know that their grandparents do not understand the operation of mobile phones and deliberately borrow their identity information through real names. Authenticate and brush your face on your behalf. In addition, services that help crack the anti-addiction mechanism can also be purchased online.

Ye Kun said frankly that if the child directly uses the parent’s mobile phone and account to play the game, it will be difficult for the game operator to identify it, but if there is a large amount of consumption, there will be a dedicated customer service staff to follow up and verify the identity. Tencent also stated that since June 2020, in response to the issue of “children using parental identity information to bypass supervision”, Tencent has specifically expanded the application range of face recognition technology. Users who are suspected of being minors are screened. Users who refuse to verify or are inconsistent with the real-name information will be included in the supervision of minors’ addiction prevention. According to the data provided by Tencent, the face recognition verification for suspected underage users has been applied to more than 100 mobile game products under Tencent. On average, 7.24 million accounts trigger faces during the login process and about 60,000 accounts during the payment process every day. Identification, among which users who refused or failed verification, about 90.5% of the accounts were included in the anti-addiction supervision during the login process, and about 80% of the payment process was blocked for recharge. During the winter vacation, about 17.8 million underage accounts were “kicked” offline by the system every day for logging in for more than 1.5 hours.

Mr. Duan, who used to teach in a middle school in a county in Yunnan, told that compared with children in first- and second-tier cities, minors living in counties and towns, especially left-behind children, are more dependent on games and addicted to games. The phenomenon and hazards are also easily overlooked. Therefore, people in the industry generally believe that the closure of loopholes is not something that game manufacturers can do, but that governments at all levels, enterprises, families, schools and other parties need to work together.

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